The popular appeal of statues of animals: Ruswarp the dog

Mark Rand, who writes at Settle Station Water Tower says:

Ruswarp Statue front viewLike it or not, statues of animals have more popular appeal than those of people. I was much involved with the now famous statue of Ruswarp the dog at Garsdale station.

That too was criticised at the time by many and it almost did not happen. Happily it did happen and proves to be the most talked about item among the glories of the Settle-Carlisle line – second only to the Ribblehead Viaduct probably.

It is a bit of fun which speaks powerfully about the fight to save the line from closure and of the loyalty of Man’s Best Friend. It seems relevant in the present context.

Mallard_on_Ribblehead

A call to action to save Gresley’s duck

Gresley Society Council members Mike Foreman and David McIntosh promoting the Sir Nigel Gresley and Mallard statue in happier times,  before they ditched the duck, November 2014

Gresley Society Council members Mike Foreman and David McIntosh promoting the Sir Nigel Gresley and Mallard statue before they changed their minds

It appears to be a waste of time trying to talk to Gresley Society Chairman David McIntosh about the statue – he has made up his mind about the mallard (or, rather, the Godfreys have made it up for him), and also made it clear he is not listening to anyone who disagrees with him.

However, we cannot give up this campaign to get the mallard reinstated until all lines of persuasion have been exhausted. This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to raise awareness of Sir Nigel Gresley and his work, by way of an iconic, memorable statue that will be seen by millions over the next 100 years or so.

Mr McIntosh may think otherwise, but our intent is serious. It is to see Sir Nigel Gresley honoured in a fitting and appropriate manner, at King’s Cross station.

michael-williamsIn addition to the 2,000 people who have already signed the petition, the mallard’s inclusion is supported by many eminent railway people, including: authors Don Hale, Michael Williams (left), Christian Wolmar; artists Malcolm Root, Jonathan Clay, Matthew Cousins, Philip D. Hawkins; magazine editors Robin Jones (Heritage Railway), Howard Johnston (Steam Railway), Nick Pigott (Railway); and former National Railway Museum Director Andrew Scott.

So, let us step up the action. Please would you consider doing one, some, or all of the following:

  1. Sign the petition 
  2. If you have donated to the statue appeal on the basis of the with-mallard design, ask for your money back via enquiries@gresley.org
  3. Many people have said they would contribute to the appeal if the mallard were reinstated – write and let the Gresley Society know this enquiries@gresley.org
  4. Write to Camden Council, whose planning consent was based on the with-mallard design. Campaign supporter Stephen Jackson, a senior planning officer, suggests Camden cannot allow the statue to be erected without the mallard (which would be akin to granting a builder consent for a house with two parking spaces and turning a blind eye if it were built with only one). See his argument here. The Gresley Society are saying Camden will allow the statue without the mallard.
    The planning officer at Camden is Antonia Powell antonia.powell@camden.gov.uk
  5. Contact Network Rail, who are also apparently happy for the statue to go ahead without the mallard – an unremarkable statue, in a very public place, seen but unnoticed by millions. Do they really want this for one of their premier stations? Public opinion clearly favours the inclusion of the mallard.
    Ian Ball, Network Rail, 1 Eversholt Street, London, NW1 2DN (Switchboard: 020 7557 8000)
  6. Contact the Charity Commission on two counts.
    Firstly, we suggest the Gresley Society Trust’s handling of the statue debacle is in danger of ‘bringing the charity into disrepute’ – by taking money based one thing (the original statue design), then substantially changing it (by removing the mallard); and by making insulting public statements about people who have expressed an interest in the statue.
    Secondly, the trustees appear to be in breach of their duties under the ‘public benefit requirement’ – ie to act in interests of the public rather than small numbers of individuals. (For more info read this) The Gresley Society Trust’s aim, lodged with the Charity Commission is THE ADVANCEMENT OF EDUCATION OF THE PUBLIC IN PARTICULAR BY THE PROMOTION OF INTEREST IN THE LIFE AND WORKS OF SIR NIGEL GRESLEY IN THE FIELD OF SCIENCE AND ENGINEERING. There’s a complaints form here or email the case workteam (we have had some dealings with Ken Rogers) fcemailteam@charitycommission.gsi.gov.uk
  7. If you are a member of the Gresley Society, write to Council to complain. It might be more worthwhile contacting the new Vice Chairman Philip Benham than Mr McIntosh. Council email addresses can be found here or in the Gresley Observer. Also get in touch with other like-minded members via gresleypoll@gmail.com.
  8. Download and display the campaign poster to raise awareness
  9. Write to the railway and national press.

And if you have other suggestions, please share them.

Van-de-Poll-LNER-A4-1

 

Gresley Society Chairman’s extraordinary outburst against ‘duck fanatics’

Gresley Society Chairman David McIntosh has given an extraordinary interview to Steam Railway‘s David Wilcock in a follow-up piece to last month’s analysis of the statue debacle. Here is Mr McIntosh dismissing the 2,000 or so people who have signed the petition to reinstate the mallard on the statue of Sir Nigel Gresley:

These are 2,000 non-members of the [Gresley] Society, mostly duck fanatics who are egged on and led only by themselves…..The vast horde care nothing about Sir Nigel Gresley.

Supporters of the campaign to reinstate the mallard on Sir Nigel’s statue have called the comments offensive, with one summing up the general reaction to Mr McIntosh:

You have done huge damage to the reputation of the Gresley Society and therefore you should resign as the Chairman as you obviously haven’t got the Society in your best interests but only the Godfreys. Shame on you.

Gresley Society Council members Mike Foreman and David McIntosh promoting the Sir Nigel Gresley and Mallard statue in happier times,  before they ditched the duck, November 2014

Gresley Society Council members Mike Foreman and David McIntosh promoting the Sir Nigel Gresley and Mallard statue in happier times, before they ditched the duck, November 2014

Gresley Society Council and the ‘duck controversy’

Nigel Dant and Dennis Butler – the two Gresley Society Council members to resign over the decision to remove the mallard – have written the following in response to a piece in the Gresley Observer (the Gresley Society magazine for members):

Gresley Society members have been told by Council (the Society’s ruling body) that the ‘duck controversy’ over the proposed statue of Sir Nigel Gresley is the fault of the Council subcommittee who worked tirelessly for over a year to translate the germ of an idea into a full-blown, accepted by the necessary authorities, proposition . The subcommittee’s crime? ‘Inexplicably’ not consulting the Godfrey brothers (Sir Nigel’s grandsons) about the statue’s design.

As the two surviving members of that subcommittee, we strongly contest this interpretation of the situation. Sadly, Andrew Dow, who lead the subcommittee is no longer here to join us in this.

Firstly, the ‘controversy’ – ie a significant and ongoing amount of bad press and bad feeling towards the Gresley Society – has been caused by Council’s inept (not to say partisan) handling of the project since the Godfreys made their objections known. To decide to remove the mallard from the statue four months into an international fundraising appeal featuring the with-mallard design was bad enough. But to do it without consulting rank and file Society members (in whose name the statue will be erected) nor the people who had already contributed to the fund, was a huge mistake. No wonder people are upset.

Subsequent statements by senior Council members and Tim Godfrey himself have just made matters worse. Berating anyone who disagrees with the decision to remove the mallard, and saying the public have no interest in the statue, is no way for a (once) respected organisation to behave.

Which brings us to the second point of contention. Council members – as evidenced by their stated disregard for public interest in the statue, and their devotion to the Godfreys – appear to have forgotten that the statue was supposed to be a public memorial to Sir Nigel. Not a family tribute. The Council’s agreed goal was for a public statue, in a public place, paid for (as much as possible) by the public.

The with-mallard design was approved by Council last summer before planning consent was sought, and apparently endorsed by members at its AGM that Autumn. We say ‘apparently endorsed’ because no words of dissent were offered to any of the subcommittee members, all three of whom were present – even by the member of the Godfrey family who also attended the meeting. We have learnt over recent weeks how close a friendship Council members enjoy with the Godfreys. If any of them were at all concerned about the presence of the mallard, why did they not pick up the phone and have a chat about it? Council members were happy with the original statue design until the Godfreys intervened. Now, Council are telling us what a terrible idea the mallard is, as if it is some sort of satanic figure. They must be seeing something they didn’t notice before.

With a project of this size and complexity, the proposed statue was never going to please everybody. If, at the outset, we had been asked to consult the family, we might still be working on it, since other family members supported the original design. Added to that there was a great deal to do in finding and commissioning the sculptor, negotiating with Network Rail for a prime position, getting the essential consent from Camden Council, organising a new website, as well as delivering publicity and infrastructure for the fundraising appeal. A year’s solid work before the Godfreys stepped in and demanded changes.

Of course the mallard was only one area of contention. The cut of Sir Nigel’s suit, lack of tie pin, hand in pocket and the magazine in his left hand were other dislikes. Interestingly, the magazine he is holding is a copy of Locomotive dated 15 July 1939 on the front cover of which is, you’ve guessed it, a picture of Mallard. So, a mallard at his feet and Mallard in his left hand, the juxtaposition is inspired and the insult that the Gresley Society have levelled at Hazel Reeves by rejecting her design is without compare.

To blame the subcommittee for the mess the Gresley Society now finds itself in is like the Captain of the Titanic saying the engine room crew were responsible for hitting the iceberg. Rather than looking for scapegoats, Council should concentrate on getting the Society out of dangerous waters before it sinks without trace.

emprie of indiaDennis Butler and Nigel Dant, Ex Gresley Society sub-committee

 

Campaign poster by Jonathan Clay – download yours here!

We’ve been asked by many people for a save the duck campaign poster to help spread the word and raise awareness of the petition. Railway artist Jonathan Clay has kindly designed one, and it can be downloaded from the link below, along with a petition proforma for people who would like to sign but are not online.

Gresley duck poster

Gresley duck petition proforma

Please let us know if you have any difficulty downloading these and we can email them instead.

As you will see, the poster features a QR code, and this links directly to the petition. The wall plaque behind the statue of Sir Nigel is also to have a QR code (linking to information about him, on the Gresley Society website).

Please do print out the poster and display it where railway enthusiasts and non-railway enthusiasts alike will see it!